Members of Reno’s Hispanic community packed the 400-seat Laxalt Theater in February 2006 for an all-Spanish production of Los Monologos de la Vagina (The Vagina Monologues). Dressed to the nines, the audience members—made up roughly equally of women and men—drew serious expressions at the more somber monologues and laughed out loud at the comedic ones. Their presence silenced most doubts of a local market for all-Spanish theater. It also showed that a local Spanish theater troupe, Brown Eyes Too, could pull it off.
Now, the same theater company and many of the actresses that brought Los Monologos to Laxalt has returned to the stage with Entre Mujeres (Among Women), presented with the Latino Research Center of UNR.
“I did The Vagina Monologues, and we all did it,” says actress Ivonne Suarez. “It was fun to do something together again. With The Vagina Monologues, it’s a monologue, so you didn’t get to interact. But with this, it’s fun; we’re all together.”
Entre Mujeres is a comedy directed by AnnaMaria Vega and written by Spanish writer Santiago Moncada. It centers on five women, who were friends in Catholic high school but have since gone very separate ways. They reunite 15 years later in the home of Elena (Paola Cruz), who called the gathering together on pretenses of reconnecting with old friends, but she actually has a mystery to solve: She thinks her husband is messing around and that one of these women is the mistress. The other women include Carlota (Brenda Carrera), a novelist; Luisa (Suarez), a high-priced, candid prostitute; Emilia (Mariajose Taibo), a married attorney who’s taken a lover; and Hortencia (Yuliana Chavez, who was hilarious in Los Monologos), a highly conservative woman with a husband, two kids, lofty morals and a secret.
There is no leading lady here, as each character carries equal weight. But during rehearsal, I found the two extremes—the super conservative Hortencia and the scandalous Luisa—the most intriguing.
Taibo, who took over the part of Emilia a couple months ago after another actress quit, is the youngest in the group. The 16-year-old is the daughter of director Vega, and while her acting stands up against those around her, disbelief may be difficult to suspend for some audience members when they try to imagine her young face as that of a woman in her mid-30s. That sense may fade as the play continues.
Some actresses were struggling with their lines during rehearsal, but the group has since had a week and an opening weekend to commit them to memory.
The audience is invited to eavesdrop on this party, which takes place in a living room. The women sit on chairs and sofas drinking cocktails, divulging their sexual proclivities and preferences, making fun of men and of the pure ideals the women were raised to hold dear, and reminiscing about their school days.
As the storyline unfolds, betrayals, surprises and secrets are revealed, and nothing is as it seems.
As Mariajose Taibo’s character says, “Mas que un secreto no es un secreto; es una melodrama.” ("More than one secret isn’t a secret; it’s a melodrama.")
And like a good melodrama, this one makes you laugh.